Utah Must Recognise Same-Sex Marriages Already Performed

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And the hits just keep on rolling. A federal judge ruled a week ago that Utah must recognise all of the marriage certificates were granted after that state's same-sex marriage ban was struck down in December. That's over 1,300 marriages.


The decision by Judge Dale Kimball will take effect immediately following a 21-day stay to allow for an appeal. Utah is part of the 10th Circuit and that court could decide to hear the appeal. This is a pretty substantial ruling because of the way court cases at one level of the judicial system affect court cases on another. Kimball addressed the questions already posed to the Utah Supreme Court. Assuming that the 10th Circuit does not decide to stay Kimball's ruling, there will be nothing for the Utah Supreme Court to consider, essentially lifting the issue away from state courts entirely.

Although Kimball did recognise that the ban was back in effect, he ruled against the idea that the ban being back in effect would render the previously lawfully conducted marriages null and void.

Governor Gary Herbert (R) and Attorney General Sean Reyes (R) are prohibited from applying Utah's marriage bans retroactively...

In the ruling, Kimball argued that the decision made by the Supreme Court of the United States in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act applied in Utah's case because it created a class of people entitled to marriage at the time of their marriage ceremonies. This would privilege one class of married people (straight couples) over another class of married people (gay couples). That was the same argument used by SCOTUS in Windsor which led to the fall of DOMA. The state argued that the injunction necessarily means that actions taken before the injunction retroactively are covered by the injunction. Kimball disagreed noting examples of precedent where such was not the case.

Ultimately, like most of the judges before him, no matter the arguments supporting a continuation of inequality, Kimball wasn't buying what Utah's administration was selling. Congrats to the more than 1,300 couples once again having the validity of their relationships supported by the judicial branch.

Image via AP.